Steli drives an average of 450,000 visits to his site, Close.io, every month.
Most of it coming from his own content.
Yes, you read that right.
EVERY MONTH FROM HIS OWN CONTENT.
Thousands of pieces of content over an extended period.
Here’s where it gets crazy –
His product is a CRM.
That means he’s in the most competitive industry.
Yet, he’s taking the reins as the thought leader.
I’d argue that next to Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, and Dharmesh Shah, founder of Hubspot, that Steli has one of the most renowned personal brands in the CRM space.
How did he do it?
It’s not magic.
It’s hard work that makes Steli one of the most badass bootstrapped founders.
In this post, we’re breaking down step by step how Steli built his influence across organic channels creating a brand few can compete with:
Step 1: Create a Homepage that Sells
Steli keeps the Close.io homepage simple.
Your focus is immediately drawn to the two green CTA buttons. The dark background helps showcase these CTAs.
Doesn’t get much better.
He provides the benefit in three words.
He then inserts borrowed credibility with featured logos and testimonials – smart move:
Then he inserts Close.io’s credibility.
“We’ve written three books on sales. Why wouldn’t you trust us?”
Then if you’re not ready to become a customer, he has a low-barrier call-to-action to join the email list.
How well does his site perform?
Take a look at the stats. He averages 450K visitors/month with a high average time-on-site and page view. The bounce rate is a bit high, but the numbers look solid.
Step 2: Bootstrap the Company
Steli bootstrapped Close.io which gave him an advantage: efficiency.
When analyzing his competitors, you can see exactly how his marketing strategies are outcompeting their online presence.
Let’s compare Close.io’s stats to Pipedrive, the industry leader in CRM with over 320 employees:
Pipedrive’s average time on site and page view shows a lot of room for improvement in Close.io’s customer and prospect experience.
Still, when compared to other industry leaders, you’ll notice Close.io has the upper hand. See below how SugarCRM traffic is tanking. It doesn’t surprise me as their page view number and time on site is relatively low.
Let’s take a look at another industry-leading CRM, ProsperWorks:
At first, the stats look competitive to Close.io. Here’s why they’re not –
ProsperWorks gets double the traffic Close.io does, but with 7X more employees than Close.io.
That’s a bad sign of high overhead.
It’s even worse when you look at their traffic source:
Then it takes another knock down when you consider ProsperWorks raised $87 million dollars:
When we find out that close to half their company is comprised of either sales or business development employees, we get a better idea of why this company has taken the focus off their online marketing. It’s working to propel their growth, but will they fuel the sales revenue back into organic online marketing?
Let’s take a look back at SugarCRM. They raised $123.1 million dollars. They have less traffic with 10X more employees than Close.io. Someone screwed up on this one.
As you can see the picture isn’t getting any prettier either:
Overall takeaway: Close.io is the clear market leader next to Pipedrive in regards to online marketing.
Keep in mind, online marketing doesn’t determine everything about growth. The fact that ProsperWorks heavily focuses on offline sales is not a negative if it helps their company scale efficiently.
Step 3: Crush it on YouTube
Where does Steli drive traffic from?
One huge source is YouTube. He has over 700 videos about sales.
Five hundred of these videos are sales motivation videos – a popular category on YouTube. Once he realized that, he didn’t just double down, he crushed the market with content.
575 videos later, Steli still makes them on a regular basis.
Take a look at the results below. When looking at Close.io’s social traffic, YouTube makes up a huge percentage next to Facebook. Plus, it’s evergreen content. This keeps his traffic source producing revenue time and again.
What most people don’t realize, Steli’s subscribers were driven primarily by twenty of his top six-hundred videos. That means 1 of every 30 videos had a heavy contribution to his subscriber base. In other words, he dominated his YouTube channel with one main quality: consistency.
Steli also makes sure to link every video back to his website or relevant blog post in the description. The crazy part? Steli makes a YouTube video for all his blog posts. You’ll also notice how his descriptions are SEO optimized. Perfect for ranking on YouTube and Google.
Let’s see how his YouTube videos play into his blog.
Step 4: Double-Down on Your Blog
Notice the stats below. Almost half of Close.io’s traffic is driven to his blog – even more than the homepage. I have no idea how many blog posts Steli has written, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was close to one thousand or more.
Steli has one of the most optimized blogs for capturing emails I’ve seen. Period.
He also adds some secret sauce.
He includes a YouTube video explaining the blog post at the bottom. This helps rank the YouTube video while adding an extra layer of personalization to his content.
Every call to action at the bottom of his posts is relevant to the content. Notice how the one in the picture above is different than the one below.
Steli is segmenting his audience with his blog posts to more effectively market to them.
And he’s doing a brilliant job at it.
Step 5: Answer Every Relevant Quora Question
Steli’s on every platform that produces quality SEO for Close.io.
That means Quora, too.
He’s answered over several hundred sales questions on Quora while back linking to his website in every one. This takes a considerable amount of time, but again it’s evergreen content on platforms where his competitors refuse to play ball.
After 700 YouTube videos, 1000 blog posts, and 300 Quora answers, you’d think he’d produced enough content already, but it doesn’t stop there.
Step 6: Use Viral Platforms
Steli takes advantage of platforms that push his content out to a larger audience, including Product Hunt and Udemy. Steli has 80 submissions to Product Hunt, providing a ton of SEO juice back to his website.
With Udemy, he’s reached over 15,000 people interested in sales organically.
Again, these are both platforms his competitors don’t play on.
So far we’ve covered five platforms Steli has dominated over most of his competitors: blogging, YouTube, Quora, Product Hunt, and Udemy. That’s what you call pure hustle.
Step 7. Build Authority
If you’re relying on your personal brand to sell, then you need third-party credibility.
Steli takes full advantage of this by hopping on podcasts and guest posting.
He’s been featured everywhere from Mixergy to The Art of Charm.
Then he takes it one step further by sharing a podcast with Hitesh Shah, co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, called The Startup Chat. To date, they’ve done 297 episodes where they talk about scaling startups.
As I searched the CEOs of competing companies, I found little to no guest posts and podcast features. It’s just another avenue where Steli is out-hustling his competition. That’s badass.
Play on Platforms Your Competitors Won’t
Steli is throwing punches.
He’s landing a lot of rights on platforms his competitors aren’t even on.
With any founder producing content, there’s always the question of whether they can keep up the momentum. If you look at the last six years of his consistency, there’s no doubt he will.
If you want to bootstrap your company, then Steli provides the framework of just how much work is involved to make it a reality.
Do you have what it takes?
Co-founder of BAMF Media, Josh has evangelized growth for a couple of the fastest growing SaaS companies, authored five marketing books, and was awarded Top Quora Writer of 2017 & 2018. He has over 200+ million views on his writing.